******* Biting Back ********
A fantasy about the life of Diogenes the Cynic
through the eyes of various contemporaries.
© Gavin Wraith 8/8/03
******** The estate agent ********
Antisthenes commissioned me to find a cottage for Diogenes.
There were the usual delays because the owner had just died,
and the will was disputed. So Diogenes took up residence in a jar
in the temple of the Great Mother. If that sort of behaviour
became fashionable we would be earning fewer commissions; that
is clear enough.
He would roll about in that jar sometimes. When children teased
him and called him a 'dog' he would growl at them. But if the
little ones got frightened he would say "It is alright, I do not
eat little beetroots". When the jar was vandalised the city voted
to provide him with a new one.
He lives in the cottage now, but he has no maid or boy to clean
the place or wait on him.
"What happens if you die?" I asked. "Who will carry you out to be
buried?". "Whoever wants the house", was his reply.
He cannot bear to see people depending on their servants.
He was there once when my man was helping me on with my shoes.
You will not believe what he said. "You won't really have
attained supreme bliss until you have him wiping your nose, too.
And that will come, sure enough, when you have lost the use of
His 'dog' nickname is quite appropriate. I was at a party last year
where some rowdy guests threw bones at him. He went over and cocked
his leg over them. He even masturbated like a dog, quite publicly
in the marketplace, once. I think he was just trying to draw
attention to himself and beg for food.
"If only it were so easy to assuage hunger by rubbing
the stomach" was his comment. It is just exhibitionism.
Then there was that time when my nephew was giving a public
reading. Diogenes was there in the front row with a coarse
sheaf of lupins in the fold of his dress, such as only the poorest
folk make do with. Of course the audience could not help glancing
at him, wondering what he was up to. He paid no attention to the
lecture at all, but took out the lupins one by one, sniffed at them,
shook them close to his ear as if they were little bells, and started
sucking at them, with his eyebrows raised comically.
Eventually my nephew stopped reading because nobody
was listening. They were all staring at the lupins.
Diogenes looked up suddenly, and turned round to peer
at the audience, all innocence. My nephew was so flustered
he could hardly continue. When the blank part of the
scroll started to become visible to the audience,
Diogenes said in a loud whisper "Courage men, I spy
land ahead!". When I remonstrated with him, he insisted
that he was blameless and that it was the audience that
I should be blaming for preferring lupins to the elegant
fare that my nephew was offering.
He really is the rudest person in the world. It is odd that
so many of our most respected citizens take him seriously.
Perhaps I have missed something.
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